Pickup Driver Facing Negligent Homicide Charges “Bragged” About Being A Trucker
Springfield, Massachusetts – The driver of a pickup truck involved in a horrific accident last week in New Hampshire (which left seven dead) was also responsible for a big rig crash in Texas earlier this month.
While the vehicle involved in the tragic motorcycle accident was not a commercial motor vehicle, it turns out the driver, 23-year-old Ukranian immigrant Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, is in fact a CDL holder.
Headlines related to the accident referred to the driver of the pick-up truck as a “truck driver” and “trucker,” and left many in the trucking industry upset about the insinuation that Zhukovskyy was a professional commercial big rig operator.
Zhukovskyy received his CDL on August 3, 2018 from the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
News reports of a “truck driver” towing a flatbed trailer who collided head-on with a group of ten motorcyclists in New Hampshire last Friday quickly garnered national attention.
Coverage intensified earlier this week after names and photos of the seven deceased were released and identified as a group of a U.S. Marines and their spouses.
Police say Zhukovskyy was traveling westbound on Route 2 last Friday, June 21 in a 2016 Dodge pick-up truck when he collided with a group of bikers headed eastbound at approximately 6:30 p.m.
He is facing seven counts of negligent homicide for their deaths.
Zhukovskyy Bragged About Being a Trucker
Zhukovskyy frequented a Denny’s restaurant in Baytown, TX during his time employed with West Springfield, MA-based FBI Express, Inc., a car hauler.
Cashier Anita Cash remembered him as a semi-regular because he was boastful about being a trucker.
“He kept bragging about driving a truck,” Cash said, according to ABC7 Chicago. “I thought he was too young himself, I thought he had a baby face, and I thought he was just here to impress a female or whatever.”
Truck Driving And Drug History Revealed
Zhukovskyy was recently fired from FBI Express, Inc. after rolling a Mack truck hauling five cars along I-10 near Baytown on June 3.
Zhukovskyy told police he had overcorrected trying to maneuver around a car that cut him off.
The car was never located and Zhukovskyy was not cited in the incident.
This was not Zhukovskyy’s first incident in Baytown, however.
On February 11, 2019, police were called to a Denny’s around 2 a.m., where there were complaints of a man acting intoxicated.
“I didn’t sleep for this whole day,” Zhukovskyy can be seen telling officers in the released body cam video from Baytown police.
“I’m always working. I’m a truck driver. My truck is parked outside,” Zhukovskyy continued.
“Officers patted him (Zhukovskyy) down and located a crack pipe on his person,” Baytown police Lt. Steve Dorris said.
Zhukovskyy was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in that incident.
Police body cam video from the incident was released on Thursday. WATCH it below.
Zhukovskyy later paid a fine for the misdemeanor.
FBI Express representatives reportedly claimed to not know about the incident.
In fact, the owner of FBI Express recently told WCVB that Zhukovskyy was a “team player and a good employee,” and passed the background check before he began driving for them in December 2018.
A few months later, in May 2019, police were once again called on Zhukovskyy for a disturbance in a Walmart parking lot in East Windsor, CT.
Witnesses reported seeing a man “revving his truck engine and jumping around outside the vehicle.”
Zhukovskyy failed a field sobriety test and was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence.
He was subsequently released on a $2,500 non-surety bond and taken to a hospital for evaluation.
He somehow retained his CDL, but found himself out of work after he was fired from FBI Express for the June 3 big rig crash in Texas.
Zhukovskyy had only been driving for West Springfield, MA-based company, Westfield Transport, for three days when the tragic motorcycle accident occurred in New Hampshire.
Westfield Transport’s owner, Damien Gasanov, briefly spoke with NBC10 Boston after being questioned by investigators.
“It’s a horrible, tragic…” Gasanov said as his voice cracked.
“Our condolences to the families, our prayers to the families,” he spoke through tears.
Gasanov is cooperating with authorities and says he will continue to do so.
Zhukovskyy’s former employer, FBI Express, also spoke with investigators with the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier this week.
How Was Zhukovskyy Allowed To Keep His CDL?
A question the trucking industry and the motoring public both are struggling with is how Zhukovskyy was able to keep his CDL after his three recent documented incidents.
“The [Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles] had not acted on information provided by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles about a May 11 incident that should have triggered termination of this individual’s commercial driver’s license,” the Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and C.E.O, Stephanie Pollack, said in a statement.
The head of the Massachusetts RMV, Erin Deveney, resigned on Tuesday as a result. Her job paid $143,800 a year.
On Tuesday, Zhukovskyy pleased “not guilty” to seven counts of negligent homicide.
He is being held without bail in the Coos County jail in New Hampshire.
A trial has been set for later in the fall, but jail superintendent, Ben Champagne, said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a detainer on Zhukovskyy.
That means Zhukovskyy would be turned over to ICE after criminal proceedings (including any jail time) are completed, which could result in possible deportation.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to keep you updated on this story, specifically the trucking industry’s reaction.